Russia playing important, positive role in P5+1 talks with Iran – former US ambassador

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Russia has continued to play a positive role in the P5+1 talks and the tensions between Russia and the United States over Ukraine have not played a role in the meetings, US career ambassador Thomas Pickering said Thursday. “Everything we see and hear from the Americans is that the Russians have been helpful and they continue to play an important, positive role in negotiations,” said Pickering of the ongoing nuclear negotiations set to conclude on July 20.

While US officials condemn Russian policies in Crimea and Ukraine publicly, that has not eroded the productive role the two nations have in the multi-lateral talks with Iran.

“They may say things outside the meetings that indicate a different attitude,” but according to Pickering, that has not impacted the meetings. Pickering warned about the consequences to the US of a failure to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.

“Without a realization to reach a negotiated agreement,” said Pickering said, “the US may be left with two unpalatable options: containing a nuclear armed Iran, or war.” Ambassador Pickering, who served as ambassador to the UN, Russia, India, Israel, and Jordan, testified before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday on the P5+1 talks.

He told members of Congress that Iran has fulfilled its commitments to comply with agreements reached in November talks, on the scale and during a timeframe acceptable to the IAEA. The P5+1 group of six major powers  (Russia, Britain, France, China and the US plus Germany) want Iran to scale back its controversial nuclear program for good to make sure it does not build a nuclear weapon, while Iran insists its intentions are peaceful.

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